Easter is always a special time with its significance of the resurrection of Christ and the celebration of what that resurrected life means for all of us…the joy of Gods love and life amongst us and within us. Even more meaningful for me is the sacredness of the week leading to Easter…Holy Week. This week often gets overlooked and we just celebrate Easter Sunday. My favorite service of the year is Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word, “maundatum” meaning mandate. This service remembers the night before Christ died and the last meal he shared with his friends which we know as The Last Supper. It was at this meal that Christ got up from the table and washed his friends feet inviting them to do likewise to the world and giving them the command or mandate that they are “to love one another.”
I attended Maundy Thursday service at St Marks Episcopal Church here in Austin with my good friend and Ubuntu board member, Jim McDermott. It was especially meaningful to share that service with Jim as he has journeyed through many many storms at my side and I at his side. At the close of this service the congregation participates in stripping the alter in silence, taking everything down off the walls, removing all decoration as a sign of the silent emptiness that now fills the world as Chris is betrayed and will be killed on the cross which we know as Good Friday.
This seasonal journeying as we await the celebration of the resurrection took on even greater meaning for me this year as I am now married into a Muslim family. Amal (my wife) and I celebrated Easter Sunday with my family and the congregation at St Georges Episcopal Church with all the bright colors, hope filled service celebrations and Easter egg hunts. However, afterwards Amals parents came into town for a family friends Pakistani wedding that evening.
That night I participated in something totally different than anything I have ever experienced on an Easter Sunday…a traditional Muslim wedding celebration.
In full transparency five years ago if you had told me that I would spend my Easter evening at a Muslim wedding I would have told you that you were crazy. Even though I believed passionately about the all consuming love of Christ and Gods mysterious presence at work in the world…I was living out that faith in a more fear based way, especially in how I viewed other faith traditions. I felt that pressure (a self induced pressure I now realize) that I needed to convert others rather than simply to love. Marrying Amal and being welcomed into her family has taught me many things. So too has Christ as I have slowly let go of my fears and started listening more to that love that Christ placed within my heart. As I’ve listened more and more to that love it has broken those previously held fears and opened me into something much more free and beautiful.
I now see what Richard Rohr calls the Cosmic Christ which is a far more vast, loving and mysterious understanding of how I live out my faith to this day and how I spend my Easter. My life in general has become way more colorful, way more playful and abundantly more loving. Another reminder for me and our Ubuntu community of what it means to #liveubuntu, that we are all connected and in need of receiving and giving our love freely.